Trial Balloon

On the Moons of Saturn

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 10, 2010 by Dale Connelly (32 Comments)
Filed under: Time & Space

Careful listeners to Radio Heartland will notice I am not in the studio today. Family business has called me away but I'll be back with a "live" show tomorrow.

Moons of Saturn.jpg

Speaking of traveling, the Cassini spacecraft continues to send startling and beautiful images back from Saturn. This one was posted on the mission's website last week, showing two moons appearing to race around one of the planet's rings.

Fans of the movie Avatar might note with interest that the real-life moon Pandora is on the left, looking considerably less inviting than it's digitally realized Hollywood namesake. Epimetheus is on the right, appearing to be take the lead on the inside along the rail. Actually, Pandora is slightly closer to the camera. Epimetheus's slightly larger size might aid the optical illusion.

Moons of Saturn edge.jpg

In another weird optical illusion that I attribute to fatigue and the unpredictable nature of light, if you turn the photgraph on its edge, the ring is reminiscent of the famous Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and those chunky moons start to resemble parachutists about to make an illegal and ill-advised pass-through.

Or is it an open gas flame on the kitchen stovetop with a couple of wayward toast crumbs about to be incinerated?

Clearly I'm disoriented. But that's the way it is in space. The absence of oxygen can cause you to hallucinate. Some people imagine that have the right to sell parcels of property on the moon, and I suppose they'll make a little money as long as they can convince others to buy it. One website offers entire cityscapes for sale.

Why not establish Annaville or Clydopolis now, when land is cheap? Occupying it and getting settlers to come is another story, not to mention the inevitable court battles and more mundane housekeeping problems like Moon dust. But at least in space you don't have to go too far to find a vacuum.

I confess to being a sucker for the picturesque rings of Saturn, so I could see metropolitan Dale City springing up on Epimetheus someday. But once space tourism is possible I suppose any terrain with a good view of the rings will be as crowded as Yellowstone in July.

if you could go anywhere in the cosmos for a visit, knowing you'd return safely without spending your entire life on the journey, where would you go?

Comments (32)

good morning, All - i'm staying right where i am. i think milking in a non-gravity situation would be difficult to say the least. and we like the view from here.
i'll be eager to read your ideas thru the day. we're continuing to fence pasture for the goats today. they are happy.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 10, 2010 6:09 AM

Kay kind of did that, flew off to the edge of the galaxy and has disappeared from the blog.
Mars, live their alone and build a telephone system that calls me in the future.
Good Monday, all. Bet I get a wet ride home--cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze.

Posted by Clyde in Mankato | May 10, 2010 6:19 AM

So . . . the music is authentic but the Dale is--for one day--synthetic? I probably should sit for a day on the musical request I wanted to make!

I wish you well with your mission, Dale.

And I'm going to give a foolishly simple-minded answer to the question. The more I understand about outer space, the more deeply I fall in love with my own planet, that gorgeous blue marble spinning in a sea of inky nothingness.

My imagination fails to connect with the glacial perfection of deep outer space. I'm just happy to be here. Happy to be here! HAPPY to be here!

Have a wonderful week, Heartlanders!

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 10, 2010 6:20 AM

Super topic, Dale.

I hadn't considered non-gravity milking, so now you have me considering the ups and downs of non-gravity shearing. We spent Saturday amongst the fleece animals, and I now have my heart set on some colored Angoras. Lots to learn first.

I'm thinking perhaps in low gravity, and in the coldness of space, they might develop some really great coats. Of course, we would have to provide warmth for them post shearing.

I know the gravity on the Jupiter and I assume Saturn is actually quite high, but not sure about the moons.

As a tourist, I'm going to say I think it would be fun to watch stars being born (in space, not so pretty here on Earth). Would that be a nebula? Will check with the son and heir when he wakes up, he will know.

Posted by catherine | May 10, 2010 6:26 AM

Good morning all. How far can I go into space and return? If any thing is possible, with a safe return, I might try going into a black hole and back. It would kind of like Alice going down the hole into Wonderland.

Posted by Jim | May 10, 2010 6:28 AM

I'd kind of like to see poor Pluto; now that it's been demoted to a dwarf planet, I have kind of a soft spot for it. I think I'd need a really warm jacket though!

On a different note... Mike, are you there if Dale is not? I'm wondering if Jasper has any Lena Horne in the library? Could we hear something in her honor since she passed away last night?

Posted by sherrilee | May 10, 2010 6:46 AM

Greetings! Actually I was thinking along the same lines as Jim -- going into the black hole and back or maybe travel through wormholes. It looks so cool in the movies! Have a happy day here on Earth!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 10, 2010 6:51 AM

Good Monday topic: I heard on the news this morning that Vladimir Putin has declared Lake Baikal clean enough to re-open an old, Soviet-era polluting paper mill on the shore.

Mike, if you are there, do we have time to remind Putin that Baikal is also called "holy sea" ? Would you play that wonderful Russian chorus singing it?

Thanks...if not today, perhaps sometime soon?
On topic: Anywhere in the universe includes Earth, Right? I would like to see Lake Baikal.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | May 10, 2010 6:55 AM

Hi Bloggers (Cynthia and Sherilee, in particular), I'm here today, but can't get a request into JASPER until after 1pm without being sent to a planet from which I'd never return.

If you think you'll be listening then, I'd be happy to plug your requests into the system.


Posted by Mike Pengra | May 10, 2010 7:32 AM

There is a star not too far away from the big dipper that glimmers nicely - Daughter and I have decided that star is where my Grandma went after she passed away (it was a good way of explaining to a then 3-yr-old where my Grandma had gone). I wouldn't mind a fly-by past that star, maybe catch a few others while we're out...then back here. I'm too much of a homebody to want to relocate. Even if I could name it Annaville. ('Course then maybe I could create a place lots of green space and waterways, just like home now, only with big play equipment for the grown-ups to play, too - and a four day work week so everyone could have Fridays for drawing with sidewalk chalk, riding scooters, blowing bubbles, making snow angels when it's cold...and no housework or grown-up work of any sort on Fridays, unless you count baking things like chocolate chip cookies).

Posted by Anna | May 10, 2010 7:41 AM

Mike, as you may (or may not) know, I work at a place where I have to listen to two radio stations...sometimes I don't remember to plugin Radio, if you could put my request on hold until some morning when Jasper is less controlling, that would be lovely...anytime I can hear Lake Baikal is the right time..

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | May 10, 2010 7:45 AM

if i could travel anywhere thats exactly where i'd go. anywhere. i always liked the premise of the enterprise to be wandering around out there just kind of taking a left or a right like you do in your boat on a large body of water.
the stuff you'd see would be interesting and inspirational. the nebulas and planets that you would see would be as cool as the highlights out the window while you drive around in your car.
my problem with space travel is that once you are there then what? looking at it is only so so on a fulfilling note. if you can't go climb around on the moonrocks then you may as well look from here. i admit seeing mount rushmore is different than seeing a picture of it but all you are doing is looking and you cant even get out of the car i question how much time i'd designate. if there was an intergalactic coffee shop like star wars with that cool music and interesting creatures then i would put it on my yearly wish list but to jet of to saturn get a look and come back without the interaction is only a so so goal. the moon saturn mars mercury the sun , the nebulas that glow like the northern lights are all spots that would be memorable and if you could beam me up to one of those spots without the 4 years of space travel i would do it in a heartbeat but the drive from here to montana is about all i can handle before i start getting stiff. i can't imagine years to the planets. i 'd never get the crick out.
thanks for the lena horn info. she was something. those haunting eyes and beautiful voice that stayed with her into her senior years. the russians and chinese and the oil companies should be made to pay up for screwing up the planet beyond the ability we have to fix it after they are done. there ought to be a group that figures out what the damage to the planet is that is being done and put a price tag on what the bill for the rest of us to deal with it will be. china acts like a trailer park landlord in backwoods and russia's proclmation that its good enough sounds a little less reassuring than it should. how about if we go over and grade them on their assesment. it may be a little difficult seeing that we are the worst offenders but if we nailed ourselves twice as hard it would be a stellar example.
i missed peter and becky on saturday and sunday and am not available for tonights final broadcast. create an archive guys if possible it would be great.

Posted by tim | May 10, 2010 7:51 AM

Morning all! I guess it shows that I am a true lover of the great in-of-doors when my impressions of the photos of the rings of Saturn brought small, domestic items to mind. The top pic made me think of a 45RPM record with a case of dust mites; the second pic made me think of the eye of a quilting needle. The two round objects to the right of the needle are those same dust mites descending into the eye of the needle in order to block the passage of the thread - darn things!

Space travel is not for me, but as I sit at the dining room window , I realize that a robin has built a nest in the crook of the gutter-pipe! I would like to be a miniature guest on the wings of this Mama Robin so that I could fly with her on her short trips around the yard, getting her view of the trees, the garden, the out buildings and the - gulp - neighbor's cat. All of that would be adventure enough for me.

Posted by Teri in Zimmerman | May 10, 2010 7:57 AM

Great point, Tim. I've wished for an archive, too.

The interviews Saturday were just great, especially the one with Peter.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 10, 2010 7:58 AM

Catherine - Angoras - pretty cool! and, of course, there is gravity on a planet. if it were really, really strong would the milk just get pulled into the pail without me? just get the "let down" going and stand back?? ha, ha
Cynthia - i love that Lake Baikal also. clean enough now to dirty up again, huh? interesting concept.
Clyde - can we get you a little dealy like on tractors - an enclosure for your bike? maybe with radio, AC, etc. like the big fancy tractors now? (my uncles would be amazed)

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 10, 2010 7:59 AM

thanks for the support steve, now get on it mike.

Posted by tim | May 10, 2010 8:00 AM

Okay, if Anna can have Annaville as her special place in space, I guess I should see if I can have a Jimville. Green space and water ways would be good. I would hope there would be a peaceful cooperative group of creative people there in that space as well. However, I think there would be a need for something to work on, but no war or poverty. Perhaps there would be a lot of things to explore and study.

Posted by Jim | May 10, 2010 8:03 AM

I'm with Tim about the time to travel. I think we need beaming before I want to do any space travel, and then I do want coffee shops and intergalactic bars like in Star Wars, and "lightly" developed planets with interesting land forms that we haven't seen, but simple Inns to stay in...

I like the idea of Annaville, creating our own perfect planet. I want one with out greed and stupidity.

Got to see Dan Chouinard's Piano Bar Show at the Fitz Saturday night -- Wow,! 2 hours of surprises. It was being taped for a Radio Heartland airing at some point, will look forward to hearing that.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 10, 2010 8:13 AM

Son and heir tells me that indeed a nebula is what I am looking for. He just wants to get far enough out to see the universe in its entirety (hey guys, I can see your galaxy from here!)

Black hole also sounds good.

I think part of the getting there and back safely thing includes being able to climb on the rocks-lets not get tooooo technical, it just happens.

Stay warm, Heartlanders!

Posted by catherine | May 10, 2010 8:20 AM

barb in bh--my son gave me a book called "The Science of the Bicycle" or something like that. A wonderful book. Bikes are amazing. It explains how bikes work, all the forces, etc. My mechanical engineer son-in-law who has never used his degree says much of it looks like his college textbooks. One tidbit: what keeps you balanced on a bike when you are not coasting downhill is the wobble in the front wheel. Anyway, it also shows far-out bikes, many with ferrings to reduce drag, some enclosed. So there you go. And yes, modern tractors are amazing. A planet of their own if you will in that cab with all it has. Thgere is nothing much about farming my father would recognize.
I think we should each design our own planet, ala, Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy. And yes someone should get an award for the coast line of Norway, I guess God.
Clyopolis, as Dale called it, would be a place with little sensory input, which is kind of space in general. To shut off all sound, noise, smells, chemicals, chaos, crowds, when I want would be heaven. Also, away from the haters, mind-controlers, limiters, etc. So I too would build a House of Usher on my Mars.

Posted by Clky de Terre de Outre | May 10, 2010 8:26 AM

Talk of buying parcels of land on the moon puts me in mind of those ad's in old comic books that offered a square inch of texas land for $1.00. With the growth of oil drilling, I've often wondered where those square inches were taken from and if the 'owners' have any actual claim on any oil found there.

I think before taking on naming cities after yourself, perhaps starting a little smaller and working your way up the scale may be more workable. Start with malls. In keeping with our own mall system here in the Twin Cities, we could have Annandale, ClydesDale, JimTimBadaBimDale, and, of course, DaleDale.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | May 10, 2010 8:26 AM

TGITH--clever, clam dever, to quote Joyce.
Mike--your line about sent to a planet from which you could not return was good too.

Posted by Cly avec Awe | May 10, 2010 8:36 AM

Okay, TGITH, I think starting small is good and I like those mall names, but I don 't want any malls, just a lot of small shops found here and there, and no big stores..

Posted by Jim | May 10, 2010 8:45 AM

guy in the hat, love it,
i used to go over to a guys house and it would regularly be myself, jim and kim at the same time and we were referred to as the im's. imdale doesn;t have the ring to it like jimtimbadabimdale does but it reminded me of the story.
we could have fadoraville in your honor and angoraland and cremaville after the kids from blackhoof, clyde i used to have a room whan i was a student with the soundproofing in the sheetrock and the radio tuned to my stations and tunes that sound like clydeopolis, maybe you could do it in your downstairs closet or in the house from the book you passed to barbara that she passed to me. i am halfway through it and enjoying the concept of the womb more than the description of the process. i will finish the book report when the book is done later in the week. i think you could create the sound smell crowd proof vacuum i guess the haters and limiters are always going to be oputside the door but you can leave them there and enjoy the ummmmness of the womb. sounds like an interesting premise for a community through. i'd like to walk through and visit for a day.

Posted by tim | May 10, 2010 8:45 AM

tim--no downstairs in our house--all ground level for my wife, who went downhill a lot this week. Sigh!! Did not know you had the book. Read it forward. Yeah, was not the book I was wanting but worth a read, which is why I read it forward and did not keep it for a later second read. Amazed by what he can make out of building a shed. Can you post some art on fb? I need inspiration. I am trying to move away from my usual literalism and cannot really do it. That's where I miss training. So if I saw some abstracts, maybe I could nudge myself that way a bit.
I think I might call my creation on Mars Rivendale.

Posted by Clyde | May 10, 2010 8:57 AM

Happy Monday all! Talk about rainy days and Mondays, how about hearing somebody sing it later Mike?

We went to see Bernadette Peters with the MN Orchestra Friday, great show from all players! Have a yen for more show tunes from my CD collection too today.

If space travel is easier than air travel I'd give it whirl, Milky Way tour for me!

Posted by Kim in Saint Paul | May 10, 2010 8:59 AM

kim, i remember seeing bernadette peters on johnny carson years ago and he made a point of bringing out one of those victorian necklaces with the sillouette of the woman facing sideways on the cameo and he pointed out how bernadtte had the classic face form the cameo,. i think of that whenever i see her.
when i get a hankering for a genre of music i go to the library and put in requests for a fistfull of cds and then bring them home a download them to my harddrive and return them, you can pick and choose later and put a little of this and a little of that on you mp3 or iphone for bringalong library. its easy cheap and you get to try stuff you never would otherwise. i am a showtune junkie and am excited by the offering the broadway thing is bringing this year. a bunch of great ones this season. i went and saw whos afraid of virgina wolfe at the jungle last night. wow. i recommend highly if you get a chance. everything the jungle does is good but this is phenomenal.

Posted by tim | May 10, 2010 9:16 AM

If you missed any of our Saturday night Radio Heartland broadcasts on MPR's news stations, they are archived at the MPRNewsQ Programs site:

The audio is usually posted by mid-day on the Monday after the show.

Posted by Mike Pengra | May 10, 2010 10:01 AM

I kinda like the idea of Annadale. Only it wouldn't be a mall, it would have to be more like a street corner filled with great local, independent shops. The corner would include, but not be limited to: a book store ('natch), a toy store, an ice cream shop, a floral shop, maybe a gift shop with lots of goofy, fun stuff, a good hardware store...

Posted by Anna | May 10, 2010 11:07 AM

Yes, Anna, in my mind Jimdale would be similar to your concept of Annadale.

Posted by Jim | May 10, 2010 11:17 AM

Sounds great, Anna -- and one of those would have a coffee window, right, maybe the ice cream shop a la Sebastian Joe's?

Tim and other show tune junkies, have you run into the Lost Broadway Treasures series?

And Clyde, I never did "report" on my time with A Place of My Own (the Michael Pollan book), but I thoroughly enjoyed all the tangents he took in the philosophical and knowledge realm, while trying to connect physically with the building of his... hut, shack, shed, can't come up with the term he used now!

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 10, 2010 4:35 PM

Proud to say in all my years teaching English I never assigned a book report, except the first year, when I was required to, which was one of the reasons that I left that school, or more a symbol of why. So no book report required, Barbara, or tim.
My old definition of Book Report: "A method of getting the jacket summary to the teacher in original bad handwriting," Today's definition would be something about getting the Amazon summary to the teacher.
But the assigned reading for today is "Martian Chronicles," which I referred to obliquely twice. Thought that I should reread it, at least the three chapters Usher and Ushers II and the one on the telephone man. But I no longer have a copy. Will have to buy it. It belongs on any standard American lit reading list. A great AMERICAN book.

Posted by Clyde in Mankato | May 10, 2010 6:37 PM

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